E3 Musings: Influencers – The Cover Mounted VHS Tape of the Millennial Age

When I was a young boy, my father took me into the city, to see a marching band.

No, wait… that’s a song.

When I was a young lad I watched Gamesmaster, Games World, Tomorrow’s World, Blue Peter, Bad Influence and other shows that may have featured games as my main source of information and influence over my future purchases. The biggest influence, however, was Mean Machines magazine – and later Mean Machines Sega, because it was the right side of the console wars of the nineties. Whether is was a cover mounted VHS tape:

…or an in depth article by Julian ‘Jazza’ Rignall I was hooked on the information I could get. When I tell my kids that this was how I found out about games as a lad they look at me the same way I imagine Prince Phillip looks at indigenous people in the West Indies.

Obviously the Internet changed all that massively, giving wanker with an opinion space for a blog to spread these thoughts to people with nowt better to do than read what a man, sitting in a house in Wisbech, eating Texas BBQ Pringles has to say about the role of influencers on gaming.

Because like it or not, Influencers are the new cover-mounted VHS tape.

EA, Microsoft, Bethesda and no doubt all to come have used influencers in their marketing runs at E3 this year. Now maybe it is reactionary, so that while gamers distrust corporations for clearly only being in it for the money (how very dare they!) a video from an influencer – even an influencer on the payroll of the corporation – is suddenly more acceptable. The voice of someone actually playing the game has more weight than the creative lead of said game. It’s bollocks. It really is. I have some very good friends who have found work as both paid and free-time influencers and vloggers and I am not talking their role down, instead I hate the fact that it is an easy ploy to convince a viewer that Opinion A is more worthy than Opinion B when both are there at the behest of whatever company is doing the marketing push in the first place.

It also downplays the role of vloggers who work for their own means, who are passionate about a subject and produce regular content, only to be smashed into the dirt by one of the ‘elite’ influencers who – thanks to Microsoft flying them half way across the world and sitting them down with an advance copy of a game and some free shit, get more acclaim and online clout. Do I think that any of the influencers on the shows are more valid in their opinions than the people I follow and interact with? Absolutely not.

And that is why the role of the influencer is the VHS tape of today, it is disposable it is temporary.


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